From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
The Convaj Events Centre, Nnewi, Anambra State, recently played host to some youths from the South-East who were tutored on the secrets of establishing and sustaining a viable company that would not only create jobs for Ndigbo, but also outlive their founders.
The one-day brainstorming exercise, interactive session/skill acquisition and learning with selected young entrepreneurs and firms was organised by the Center for Strategic Leadership and Youth Orientation (CENSTLEYO) with the theme: “Sustainable Entrepreneurship Succession Planning as a Roadmap to Economic Growth and Development in Nigeria.”
Prominent Igbo industrialists: Founder of Cutix Plc, Chief Ajulu Uzodike (Oziuzo Nnewi) and Linus Ilozue, executive director, Chikason Group of Companies, who were resource persons did not disappoint the participants as they yearned to drink more from the entrepreneurial fountain of the speakers who gave practical examples from their own success stories in running their industries.
Governor Willie Obiano was represented by the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kate Omenugha. The initiator, CENSTLEYO, Mr. Felix Emeka Imah, has been carrying out a silent revolution in the grooming of youths.
From a humble beginning as a trader in Nnewi, Imah after leading the Catholic youths in the diocese set up CENSTLEYO in 2014 to tackle what he called the “general unappealing situations in the country – corruption, negligence of the youths, negligence of the poor masses in the society, dilapidation of infrastructure, misappropriation or misuse of resources to mention, but a few, which have made many people miserable and helpless.”
He has given direction and focus to many frustrated youths, set up businesses and craft for some and also equipped many for leadership and mentorship roles in the society.
With several volunteer resource persons, the group organised training programmes for bank managers, media practitioners and teachers in the state.
Uzodike who took the participants on a learning ride using his personal success story said that entrepreneurship was all about creativity. He said that entrepreneurs first of all find a need to fulfill and work towards its fulfillment.
Giving example with Convaj, the event centre he built, he noted that before the place came into existence, there was no befitting events centre with modern facilities in Nnewi metropolis except town halls where people rented for wedding ceremonies. He charged the audience to have the audacity to establish companies first and then work to make it succeed.
He said that the only thing that separates dream from corporate reality was the capacity to persevere against all odds. He pointed out that there are so many business opportunities around the people yet to be untapped, regretting that many people set up companies to just to eat food instead of to fulfill a gap and need.
Ajulu reminded the audience that self reputation was also critical in succeeding as an entrepreneur, pointing out that no bank would be willing to borrow money to an entrepreneur who is morally bankrupt. He advised them to see every challenge as an opportunity and never to give up in such challenging moments.
Ilozue advised budding entrepreneurs on how to succeed, saying that if they want their companies to outlive them they have to learn how to divorce the company from themselves. He said successful companies must have corporate governance system following a management process whereby the founder or chairman does not have to dip hand into the company’s revenue. He said the company’s chairman should be on salary too with a good accounting system.
The chairman at the event, Dr K.C Emejulu harped on the need to revert to the investment and training of the youths. He disclosed that an Igbo boy who was trained at the College of Medicine of the University of Nigeria 20 years ago recently stunned the whole world when he discovered and developed the solution to traumatic brain injury in America.
Obiano speaking through Omenugha outlined the various packages his administration has offered the youths in the state. He noted that the government has reactivated technical schools across different parts of the state so as to equip young minds for productivity and harnessing their skills for entrepreneurship.
Imah noted that many firms have been stagnated because of the absence of the key facilitator in those companies. He said many firms would cease to operate if the key initiator ceases to be or worse still dies:
“Many economic facilitators and industrialists like MKO Abiola, Alhaji Dantata, Ekenedilichukwu, Izuchukwu and Ifesinachi transport moguls, to be conservative with the list, are recently experiencing retrogression in their businesses and economic ventures simply because they are no longer fully or completely involved in the management of their businesses.
“What then happened to the sustainability of their business ventures? What happened to the growing youths who are supposed to take over these businesses and manage them optimally for a progressive economic growth? What happened to entrepreneurial trainings to equip the youths with the necessary skills, trainings and techniques for the proper management of the business ventures?
“We are, therefore, very optimistic that through this forum, different firms, young entrepreneurs, companies and investors will be sensitized on the mode of operation that prompts a more sustainable and recommendable business approach and entrepreneurship engagement for a more reliable and healthy economy.”
Chairman, Nigerian Union of Teachers in Nnewi, Aloysius Anigbogu, thanked the organizers for the initiative. He said that it was a good omen that CENSTLEYO chose to redirect the minds of the Igbo youths on the proper maximization of their time other than engaging in thuggery and other vices on which many have wasted their lives.
A participant, Chirotalu Okoye, who is into small-scale business told Daily Sun that the forum has fuelled her desire to push for more as she now knows that there are still many untapped opportunities yet to be explored.